With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
China has long been the factory of the world. But as wages there rise, manufacturers are looking to other countries and regions. Meanwhile, African countries have a huge and burgeoning population of young people looking for jobs. So now many wonder—could Africa be the next big destination for manufacturers? And if not, then what?
CGD senior fellows Vijaya Ramachandran and Alan Gelb recently caused a bit of a stir with a new paper that tackles those very questions. On this week’s podcast, Ramachandran joins me to discuss their findings and the implications.
“We found that for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, labor costs are much higher than they are in Bangladesh or China or other parts of Asia,” Ramachandran tells me—higher than you would expect for low- and middle-income countries.
The reasons for these higher costs are unclear—though Ramachandran has some theories—but they do suggest that Africa may not be as attractive a destination for manufactures as hoped.
So what’s the alternative? “Many countries in Africa have a booming services sector, and that’s I think a very positive thing,” Ramachandran tells me, also highlighting sustainable tourism as a possibility.
“We want to be sure that when governments are thinking about how to invest in economic development and in job creation, they are aware of what the costs and benefits are of investing in each of these sectors,” Ramachandran says.
CGD and Brookings recently co-hosted Former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Distinguished Fellow Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to discuss her new book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. The book is part memoir, part how-to, as she draws on her years of experience as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to describe the dangers of fighting corruption and how best to do it. I drew four main takeaways from our conversation.